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Friday, May 23, 2008

EDITORIAL: Russia and Victory are Incompatible

Source: Ellustrator.


Russia and Victory are Incompatible

There's something about success that breeds failure where Russia is concerned. It can make the best of them head right into the toilet, and the worst of them . . . well, you don't want to know.

Take, for instance, the cartoon shown above, drawn by "Ellustrator" Sergei Yelkin for the RIA Novosti news service. It shows a sniper's crosshairs hovering over a blood-red maple leaf that has five bullet holes in the bullseye, and is emblazoned with the words "WAY TO GO!" also in blood red.

Apparently, these five bullet holes are meant to represent the five goals the Russian team scored to narrowly defeat Canada in overtime at the World Ice Hockey championships earlier this week. It's been a long 15 years since Russia last won a gold medal in that event, which it should dominate. But in fact, Russia only won because of a freak penalty where a Canadian player accidentally flipped the puck out of the rink, just a happenstance. Shorthanded, Canada gave up the sudden-death goal in overtime to lose the match. Canada had dominated Russia in the first two periods of play.

It seems that even when Russians win, they somehow find a way to lose anyway.

Just imagine for a moment if you will how Russians would have reacted if the shoe were on the other foot. Let's say, just for example, that the U.S. had beaten Russian 4-3 and a leading American wire service commissioned a cartoon showing Russia's double-headed eagle with all four eyes shot out by bullet holes. Any chance they'd say that penalty was some kind of Russophobic conspiracy? What are they odds they would admit the U.S.A. had beaten them fair and square and deserved the gold medal, and deserved to gloat with such a cartoon? In any other country, circumstances like this might be cause for some sort of introspection and modesty. But not Russia.

"We are going to get drunk. We deserve this. It is great for our country," said Russian forward Alexander Ovechkin. Impressive level of sportsmanship, isn't it?

Even Mr. Yelkin, whose work is respected by this blog and often featured in our Sunday Funnies section, totally lost his mind with intoxicating arrogance. His cartoon is sickening in more ways than can be counted, and if something like that was done by a Westerner to a patriotic symbol of Russia, there would be hell to pay. But Russians have no problem with this sort of barbarism when it's aimed at those evil foreigners they despise.

We can't help but be reminded of the classically Russian antics of Maria Sharapova's father Yuri at this year's Australian Open, which his daughter won. When she beat world #1 Justine Henin, one of the classiest and most noble players ever to grace the game -- and who has suffered a long history of personal trauma in her private life -- Yuri covered his head in his hood, making himself look just like the infamous Unabomber, and made crude, disgusting slashing gestures across his throat.

Russians win so rarely, and go down to humiliating defeat so often, and they hate foreigners so much, that it's perhaps understandable they would need to blow off accumulated pressure on the rare occasions when they succeed. But invariably, Russians go so far with this barbaric behavior that they destroy any good will or respect they might otherwise have generated in the West through their victory.

And meanwhile, instead of thinking "hey, we won, we can do this -- maybe we need some reforms so we can do it more often," Russians inevitably conclude "see, we're perfect, and whenever we lose it's just bad luck we can do nothing about, or evil foreign conspiracies." It's the same in the wide aspects of life, sports is a perfect metaphor for society where Russia is concerned. The whole charade is, in our view, utterly pathetic and disgusting.

And so it goes in Vladimir Putin's Russia. Just as Putin can't understand that when he persecutes dissidents like Oleg Kozlovsky he shows weakness rather than strength, Russians can't seem to realize how pathological their behavior makes them appear in they eyes of the civilized world. Only a greatly frustrated people, so well acquainted with humiliating failure, become so frenzied at any instance of success. All Russians do when they act this way is to remind the world of their long history of failure.

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